The major component of branding has always been COMMUNICATION. Easier said than done, what should we be communicating? On one side, there are so many good things about my brand which I want to share yet on the other side of the coin, what I am communicating about my brand may not be different from what others are saying. “Quality” is the most common reply I have gotten from participants when conducting brand training. Yet, to me “Quality” is a pre-requisite for doing business and that alone is insufficient to communicate your competitive advantages or to differentiate yourself from others.
So, how can we derive the most ideal brand communication message if not a perfect one? The most ideal message is neither what your CEO likes nor it is whatever the consumer wants to hear. That is often the easy way out to fix that. At Bizsphere, we recommend brands to use this simple VALCOM 3C™ model as a guide. It is a simple and practical exercise we developed to assist brand managers to derive the most ideal message, taking into consideration the competitive market which they are operating in.
1. Customers (List out what matter most to them)
We are selling to or servicing our customers. Their needs and wants must be taken into consideration. We will need to find out what matter most to them with reference to the products or services we are offering. Try to list down as many as you can. If you are opening a café, would it be the coffee aroma, the origin of the coffee bean, the ambience, the personalized service with a smile, the price, the activities in it, the barista or the location that matters the most to them?
2. Company Strengths (filter & list out what are your strengths based on what matter most to them)
We must communicate the strengths that are “relevant” to what matter most to your customers. We can’t be overpromising what we do not have. There will be a lot of disappointments if we overpromise yet under-deliver. Filter out what you can do best to fulfill your customers’ needs and wants by looking at your internal strengths.
3. Competitors (Filter and list out your strengths which competitors are not addressing or heavily communicating)
You would have by now discovered your company’s strengths that are relevant to your customers’ needs and wants. Yet, your competitors can have similar capabilities as well. So what differentiates you and allows you to gain “competitive advantage” over your competitors? This is the step where you need to identify what you can do but not your competitors. Very often they can do the same but have they actively communicated out? If not, that could be your first-mover advantage of shouting out those strengths. A simple example will be the milk formula “Enfagrow”. Most brands in the market also contain DHA but did not actively shout it out. “Enfagrow” took the lead by advertising heavily, and everyone thought that they were the only one to offer DHA in earlier stage, and that enabled the brand to take the market by storm.
The red intersection in the centre will likely be your ideal message as it is relevant to what customers want and is able to demonstrate your strengths and competitive advantage over your competitors. The intersection between what matters most to customers and what your competitors are not addressing will be the key attribute for your brand to look into. This will be the high market potential area your brand should be focusing on to further develop your competency.
The Ideal Message(s) is what you should brief your copywriter on to further enhance it to be more appealing in your communication or advertisement. Looking back at the example of a café, you might be brewing the best coffee in town but your brand message might be “experiencing the enjoyment of coffee relaxation at your neighborhood” as this could turn out to be your competitive advantages that are most important to your customers.
Be reminded that the most ideal communication message might not be what you can do best or what you produce, but is instead about what your customer wants. It is not only about what you can promise but more about what you can deliver. It is not about how your services are the best, but about what your customers experience and how you can be better than the rest.